Jack in a Box

He liked playing with the Jack in a Box more than any other toy. It had been his favourite since childhood, and he continued to have the same passion towards it until he approached his thirties.
Zainab Magdy
6 December 2009

A short story

He liked playing with the Jack in a Box more than any other toy. It had been his favourite since childhood, and he continued to have the same passion towards it until he approached his thirties.

This passion led him to own a diverse collection of the toy, big in size, medium and small. Among them was the funny and scary Jack. His feelings, when he brought the clown out whenever he wanted, were unmatched. This happiness was only surpassed by his ability to “squeeze” the clown and force it to get back inside the box whenever he wanted. This feeling added many more meanings to his manhood and his control over things.


She was another Jack in a Box that he admired, a beautiful doll, with thick hair and wild eyes. She was the most beautiful doll amongst all the clowns of the Jack toys, and their house was the biggest box among his collection. When he started playing with his new doll he felt that it was a new toy that had never been used before and convinced himself that it would grow softer over time. Day after day he found it more and more difficult to get her out of the box and back into it at the time he liked. She got out and in at the time she pleased! However, what pissed him off more and made him anxious, was that she – unlike the clowns – had the ability to talk.


Days passed, and he got more and more determined that she should work as he wanted. Her disobedience to his orders angered him as much as her talking, yes, her talking that embarrassed him as she even dared to argue back! She got more rebellious with every try of his. One day, after his usual try, she broke her iron spring fixing her to the box and left.


After this experience he learned his lesson. His love of Jack in a Box toys never changed but he hated this doll type. When buying any new Jack in a Box toy – especially dolls – and while still in the store, he always made sure that they got out and in easily following his own wish, his desire alone and no one else’s.


This story was written as part of the Women and Memory workshop and will be published in a collection by the Pathways of Women’s Empowerment Research Consortium in 2010






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Join us for a free live discussion on Thursday 22 October, 5pm UK time/12pm EDT.

Hear from:

Paolo Gerbaudo Sociologist and political theorist, director of the Centre for Digital Culture at King’s College London and author of ‘The Mask and the Flag: Populism and Global Protest’ and ‘The Digital Party: Political Organisation and Online Democracy’, and of the forthcoming ‘The Great Recoil: Politics After Populism and Pandemic’.

Chantal Mouffe Emeritus Professor of Political Theory at the University of Westminster in London. Her most recent books are ‘Agonistics. Thinking the World Politically’, ‘Podemos. In the Name of the People’ and ‘For a Left Populism’.

Spyros A. Sofos Researcher and research coordinator at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Lund University and author of ‘Nation and Identity in Contemporary Europe’, ‘Tormented by History’ and ‘Islam in Europe: Public Spaces and Civic Networks'.

Chair: Walid el Houri Researcher, journalist and filmmaker based between Berlin and Beirut. He is partnerships editor at openDemocracy and lead editor of its North Africa, West Asia project.

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